In this week’s edition of “5 Questions With…” we interviewed Margaret Russell, an Executive Producer with the Actors’ Mission. We asked Margaret about her role with the group, their upcoming events, and her favorite thing about the local community theater.
How long have you been involved with the Actors’ Mission?
I have laughed; I have cried; I’ve gotten mad, been embarrassed – actually experienced many emotions sitting in the audience of an Actors’ Mission performance. I became a fan in 2001 because my son, Brad Russell was in the cast of many of those first performances, held in a vacant building down on Pilot Butte Avenue in Rock Springs.
What is your role with the Actors’ Mission?
In its 17+ years, the Actors’ Mission never had a permanent home, moving from vacant space to public libraries, to the rented space in the B.P.O. Elks Lodge building. The increased interest and enthusiasm by both the community and the members necessitated substantial investments in equipment, lighting and staging; so with the donation of a building, they made the decision to renovate this new space into a “black box theatre” – a perfect venue for their productions.
The Actors’ Mission has always stayed in business by donations – putting on a free play and a free dinner with only the donations from the audience, and from SBOCES. But now they’ve found themselves in need of some larger donations for capital improvements. They formed a group of community supporters, the Executive Producers, and began a fundraising campaign in July 2016. I was asked to be a part of that group because of previous fund-raising experience as the Foundation Director at Western Wyoming Community College.
What’s your favorite thing about the Actors’ Mission?
One of the best things about Actors’ Mission is that it is FREE! This is so important! There are many people across the country who will NEVER see, nor even have an awareness, of some of the world’s greatest plays performed live on stage. The mission of Actors’ Mission is to “Feed the Body, Nourish the Mind”, and it cuts across all economic barriers, and offers great performing arts experiences to everyone – for free!
The Actors’ Mission has a big fundraising event coming up on February 10th. Can you tell us about more about it and what the funds will be used for?
Saturday, February 10th, at the Holiday Inn Ballroom, we’ll be celebrating Mardi Gras, our very first fundraiser for the new building. It will be a fun-filled evening with a fantastic dinner served up Cajun-style, a silent auction, some raffles, a Diamond Dig, lots of prizes and great jazz! Rock Springs’ very own jazz group, the Affirmations, will be entertaining the audience, and the highlight of the evening features a special concert by the “King of Jazz”, Ronnie Kole, coming in from New Orleans. Tickets are just $50 from the Chamber of Commerce, or get in touch with me. It’s going to be a great event!
Besides the fundraiser in February, are there any other big plans or events that people should know about?
The most exciting thing Actors’ Mission offers is its full season of plays. Actors’ Mission produces four plays each year. We have two shows left in this season, “Dog Sees God” by Bert V. Royal and then “The Women” by Clare Boothe Luce. A Readers Committee made up of volunteers reads and studies, then makes recommendations to the Board regarding the performances for each season. The plays are chosen, the directors are selected, and auditions held. Each production consumes about 2 to 3 months each. This Summer we hope to do Master Class in Lighting Design as part of the Mission’s continuing effort to educate.